Is British Cinema Too Depressing?
"Oh Kes, if only we lived in The Costa del Sol or perhaps somewhere by the Mediterranean sea..."
"Costa del Sol IS by the Mediterranean sea, you plank!"
Julian Fellowes, Oscar-winning writer of Gosford Park said, "The French go to see French movies, the Italians go to see Italian movies, the British go to see American movies. We don't trust British films any more. The film-going experience for most people is they want to go out, they want something entertaining... that doesn't mean giving them a terrible time."
A quick browse of Internet discussion forums, Facebook fan pages, tweets, and even celebrity musings, acutely aligns words such as "Depressing" and "Bleak" in direct correlation with British cinema. Some call it social realism. Others call it unnecessary.
The most depressing film of all time? "Anything by Ken Loach," says Facebook user Steve Crook. Indeed, Total Film listed Loache's miserable masterpiece Kes as the 12th most depressing film of all time, wondering if this film alone stands as conclusive evidence "that the British hate themselves."
Do we? Is there a viable sense of national self-loathing? On Facebook, film student Ian Grant states: "British films are good at showcasing the rotted side of Britain, showing us everything we should dislike about our society. What they're not so good at, however, is being entertaining films." Sticking with Facebook, Matt Foul asks: "Why are 90% of all British films set in depressing tower blocks or council estates? I thought films were about escapism? Not the dull, depressing reality of British life!"
90% might be a bit of a stretch. Alas, you needn't look too far before you find a significant number of British film buffs who seem depressed by the country's cinematic output.
Pete Buckingham, who was Head of Distribution and Exhibition for the disbanded UK Film Council, states that one of the negatives of UK films is their tendency to contain "Depressing or grim locations and stories," citing these elements to be something you should avoid if you wish for your film to be a commercial success.
Looking a little closer to home, and it is commonly accepted that bonnie Scotland has a reputation for being more than a little sour when it comes to its own silver screen offerings. Kick-Ass writer Mark Millar told his 19,000 Twitter followers that he was “fed up with miserable movies that make Scotland look like a place you’d avoid. Parisians and New Yorkers make movies about their cities that made me want to go there. We should be doing the same.”
Greenock-born Playwright Peter McDougall criticised Scottish filmmakers for storylines centred on the stereotypical Trainspotting junkie. He said: "I did all that shit 20 years ago and I can't believe they are still doing it now. They are constantly using drugs, the drug dealer, the pusher as their main storylines."
A comment posted on IMDB by an Internet user known simply as Gareth read, "Most Scottish cinema is about gangs, violence or some other depressing subject. What a country!" Quite, Gareth!
What are your thoughts on the topic? Is British cinema drenched in dreariness? Has our identity been melded to melancholy? Was it really necessary to have Kes the Kestrel be so brutally murdered at the end of his own bloomin' film? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.